Wednesday, 24 April 2013

There is Strong Shadow Where There is Much Light*

* Johann Wolfgang von GoetheGötz von Berlichingen

**Another article written for a university paper. It is perhaps a reiteration of much of the previous post. I remarked at the weekend that when one lives in a city for a prolonged period, one creates a life there. Upon departure, one leaves a shadow of that life. It does not disappear. It re-animates upon return. I hope this will be true upon my return to Angleterre.

On a rather out-of-character[1] whim, I boldly booked ball and plane tickets for the Maurice Blackburn Notre Dame Sydney Law Society’s annual ball. Quite a mouthful; and indeed the food was good, but this is somewhat jumping around.

By way of context, I am recently returned to Fremantle after a lovely year in the suave city of Sydney. The foundations of firm friendships were laid, and the opportunity to build upon these was not one to be lightly dismissed. YOLO, YOYO, carpe diem - whichever you may follow, be sure to follow faithfully.

Upon my return, it was immediately apparent that I had made the correct choice. The sun shone. A Paddington tailor, in the midst of relocating to the Strand Arcade, gifted me a handmade, heteroclite handkerchief of a pocket square (in my haste I had forgotten to pack one). Excellent cocktails were available at AUD$12. Such fun.

I had the good sense to enter a raffle for a round of cocktails with the President of the NDSLS, Eden Christopher, and three friends. Although belated by tiresome traffic, we entered the charming Shangri-La Hotel at the Rocks, bee-lining for the lifts. At floor 36, we entered 2010’s Bar of the Year,[2] the New York-inspired Blu Bar. Reconnecting with friends over an espresso martini, whilst overlooking the glorious harbour at night is an activity I highly recommend.

Following this, we ear-poppingly descended to the ballroom for the main event. A charming space greeted us: crisp, white tablecloths, silver service and the bubbling effervescence of excited and partly inebriated chatter. Drinks à gogo; bread rolls helpfully present.

The night opened with speeches. Mirroring the changes in Fremantle, the new Dean Professor Michael Quinlan spoke first. Chaplaincy Convenor Patrick Langrell said Grace. Finally the President, a reluctant public speaker, referred to the recent and tragic passing of much-loved student Chris Drake, whose parents were in attendance. It was a reminder of the closeness of the community at our young law school and how privileged we are to attend, be it west or east coast.

With the formalities over, the aforementioned food was served and it was topping. Particularly pudding, but then, in that department I am rarely disappointed. The obligatory Macklemore inspired many a honky to take to the dance floor. This included the doyenne of the Sydney law school’s administration, Roszanna Hazlewood, who was in fabulous form. The wonderful event put on by the NDSLS included a decadent[3] photo booth, where many forgotten moments could be recalled the following under-the-weather day.

Many thanks go to Eden Christopher and the NDSLS for having me to such a delightful night. To any so considering, Sydney is definitely worthy of a whirl.

[1] No references available.
[3] See The Inbetweeners film.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

A quick Google led me here:

The Roman poet Sextus Propertius gave us the earliest form of this saying in Elegies:

"Always toward absent lovers love's tide stronger flows."

The contemporary version appears in The Pocket Magazine of Classic and Polite Literature, 1832, in a piece by a Miss Stickland:

"Tis absense, however, that makes the heart grow fonder."

I like Sextus' words, perhaps more because of his wonderful name than the words themselves. I write of absence for reasons I hope are fairly obvious. But I am inspired to do so more because of the reasons for my absence, which I was asked to write on for my university law society's careers guide. It wasn't that I did anything of any great import, but I had a rather fun year (2012).

I attach it because, while much of it will have no meaning and lack a great deal of context, it is something I enjoyed writing; I enjoyed reminiscing. I purged the recount for hints of real emotion and anything strictly personal. These words are set against a backdrop of (temporarily) moving in with a partner, the many highs and the rare lows of love in a humid climate. Of reconnecting with dear friends. The realities of working with some wonderful people in an exciting and fashionable environment. The very "ness" of life, which has hopefully been severed as subtext.

However it is incredibly flowery. Perhaps that is the thickest plate of the armour? It may cause an editing headache...

One of Notre Dame’s greatest assets and biggest attractions for me was the opportunity to do part of my studies at the Sydney campus. With minimal bureaucratic hurdles to overcome, it was as simple as placing an ‘S’ on my reenrolment form instead of an ‘F’. (Plus a short cross-campus enrolment form.) The stroke of a pen sent the forms criss-crossing the country, in a way that foreshadowed my own travels over the course of the following year. In February 2012 I began a life in temporary exile from the West.

The seamlessness of transition between the campuses went beyond mere penmanship. As if the interiors of our Fremantle buildings had been dissected and then transplanted east, the first day of classes in Sydney felt both familiar and foreign. The identical carpet, desks and chairs were punctuated by Australia's oldest consecrated church at one end of the courtyard. With the noise and bustle of Australia's financial capital a distant background hum, the university is a defiantly tranquil sanctuary.

Within this space I was instantly welcomed, like a weary and, if not exotic at least parochial, traveller. “WA is so far away! What's it like?” was a common conversation starter. All and sundry asked for comparisons: the legal job market, the nature/quality of the education, the cost of living, and the quality of the coffee. While there was rarely consensus, there was always interest. And friendliness.

The legal nuances between our states did involve some circumnavigation of the course structure. For example, where I would have taken Property Law I took the later year subject of Constitutional Law. Being a Western Australian, this unit provided some excellent opportunity for debate. I like to think I was able to represent our oft-overlooked Western perspective on a number of federal issues. I also took Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), which is ordinarily a final year unit. The quality and experience of the lecturers made Sydney indistinguishable from Fremantle, however the exciting and global nature of Sydney provided a wealth of guest speakers and elective units to which we in Fremantle can only hope to aspire.

In ADR, our lecturer sourced national and international leaders in their fields, including the pioneer and champion of ADR in Australia, Sir Lawrence Street. This affable octogenarian with his excellent anecdotes alone made the course worthwhile. I also challenged myself to take a unit in lieu of Legal Philosophy run by the eminent Oxford legal philosopher Prof. John Finnis. Although I am highly unlikely ever to attend academically, I can proudly say an essay of mine was marked within that city of Spires. And I didn’t fail.

Because of this minor disruption (reshuffling units is a happy hobby of mine), permission from the Dean was paramount.  Before submitting the aforementioned forms, a brief discussion along the lines of which units could and/or should be studied, alongside any recommendations as to the restructuring of my degree is held. This is hugely beneficial, because it allows one to plan not only for the time in Sydney, but also for all future endeavours and aspirations within the degree.

As wonderful as the time spent studying at the Sydney campus was, my year’s highlights often took place great distances from its hallowed lecture theatres. The greatest highlight occurred in the middle of the year, when we made the trip down to Melbourne for the 2012 ALSA Conference. This was a wonderful opportunity to cement friendships with our new Sydney friends, but also to meet law students from across the country. While attendance is not unique to the Sydney campus (there were more Fremantlers in attendance, such fun), the ease of travel from NSW to the rest of the east coast facilitated many trips to Melbourne. I also skied in the charming Charlotte Pass and did day trips to the Hunter Valley, the Southern Highlands and Canberra.

Sydney itself is such an enormous proposition to the visitor. Where to eat, shop, swim, walk, study, eat, drink, dance, eat, do karaoke, be cultured/a hipster was a daily minefield of merriment. While the weather is not as consistently sunny and warm, nor the beaches endless horizons of white sand, Sydney is a truly breathtaking city that reflects and showcases some of the best aspects of Australia to the world. While it is lovely to be back in Fremantle, it was difficult to overcome my Sydney homesickness. Perhaps I haven’t fully. If you are interested in an exchange without the hassle (and expense) of actually having to go abroad, I highly recommend Sydney. Affixing that ‘S’ will be a long-remembered highlight of my university career.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


May? That really is embarrassing.

Law school is slowly doing my head in. Actually, the process accelerates exponentially. To think when I began I was so naively self-assured, utterly dough-faced. It was challenging, but in a good, motivating way. Now, I simply over-think; I think. I still enjoy the law - the more I learn the more interesting it becomes, and the more confident I feel about the whole thing.

Sadly, the flip-side to all this the darker side of it all. A hyper-competitive streak appears from nowhere, destroying my generally ethical composition and sending me into a panicked mess. Mind you, that could simply be because I foolishly signed up to the Junior Moot. An excellent opportunity to practice advocacy skills, before studying Advocacy. Excellent indeed, until the problem question arrives. Having idiotically got through to the second round, I have a one in eight chance of winning in the end. Do I really want to win though? I've got this far, have I not depressed myself enough? Of course I want to win, I've got this far! And I've just learned that every finalist receives some sort of prize. I simply must get into the finals. The problem is, they drain so much time and attention from actual assessments. One of which I ought to be doing now, I have to deliver a monologue from Trainspotting. There's a particularly mature-age student who also has to do one, I am eagerly anticipating the amount of times she has to say the F word. It literally is every other word in the soliloquy.

Despite my complaints, it's all really not too bad. I am volunteering as a court welfare officer for Legal Aid (there is a compulsory service component to my degree), which I have to fit around uni and work. I don't understand how some people "have it all." Are they lying? Do they sleep? Are they happy? Are they real? I seem to be real enough, but that was before I studied philosophy (also compulsory). Now I have no idea. There are so many conflicting messages. Living for the moment is a wonderful adage, but it is entirely incompatible with law school. Or any school, for that matter. Work-life balance is hilarious oxymoronic HR speak that means absolutely nothing. Work-life imbalance would be somewhat closer, but it still leaves the impression that a life exists in the true sense.

This is why it is so important to make good use of holidays, for the purpose of disconnecting with reality. In July I managed to escape to Tasmania. Ironic considering it's long history as a penal settlement. It is just so beautiful, it reminded me of home in many ways. Green, rolling hills, pretty buildings, eccentric population. But it has a crispness to it, a sharpness of colour and light. Almost alpine at times, with snow-capped mountains, albeit mini-versions. The food was perfect. The history was fascinating, and at times a little too close for comfort. Our final night in Hobart was, after a lovely dinner, spent on a ghost tour of the Penitentiary Chapel. Converted into court rooms, and the place where convicted criminals were hanged, the place was chilling, or rather even more chilling on top of a bitter night. As lamp-bearer, I bravely led or was at the rear of the group, which of course made me feel wonderfully brave and important, albeit quite vulnerable. After some very interesting tales, we returned via a tunnel to finish the tour. I led. The guide told his final stories and we were about to leave. All of a sudden *CHING*. As if a coin or a chain had dropped to the cement floor. Hastily a torch was thrust into my hand, and I shone frantically, searching for the source of the sound. Nothing, of course. By this point, our small group was more than spooked and we desperately clambered out of the tunnel. While thrilled to have potentially encountered a 'something else' down there, I can't help but feel thoroughly unnerved to have led the group, and been quite distant from them at some points, while that something else was there. Was it watching me, was it aware that I was there? Amazing how important light is: a weapon, a shield, a beacon, sustenance, hope.

Anyway, how are all of you?


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

An Affluent Struggle in Effluence

At various points in time I find myself evaluating my life, as I'm sure we all do. What have I done, what have I really achieved and what if any of it was worthwhile? As a person predisposed to viewing himself in a negative light, I very quickly become bogged down in a mire of self-pity and seem to derive pleasure from the selfishness of such wallowing. I have an over developed sense of entitlement, perhaps an off-shoot of the post-Cold War generation. Life is short and indeterminate, so enjoy it while it lasts. Pleasure is inexpensive and freely available. As one fortunate enough to be born into a life of relative privilege, living in comfortable surroundings amongst fellow winners of the lottery of life, I find myself too often feeling discontented. I want more. I covet such a lot, which pains me. I have become conscious of so much vanity, greed and hollowness. Une vide.

While studying I'm essentially living as a leech, 'surviving' off my parents and the Australian government. In that way I'm so blessed. My university takes a number of students in various African nations who must work so hard to study and afford to live alone in a foreign country, far from their families. I spoke to one girl who, now 22, would have been married off at 15 had she not won a scholarship to continue at school. She intimated that she would probably be considered an old maid in her home town. She must work several jobs whilst also studying full time to support herself. She is also afraid to invite her family to her graduation at the end of the year, in case she fails a unit or in some way disappoints them.

The real world can be a very harsh and unforgiving place. My world is comparatively sugar-coated and cushioned. This is why my ability to enjoy the quicksand of despondence fills me with self-loathing. How dare I find the time to sit and ponder, how dare I want the new iPhone, Mac-book, car, house, clothes that all look so pretty in the magazines. How dare I be so ungrateful!

Yet I know I am not alone. Coveting is mentioned twice in the commandments, for different things but for the same reasons. As humans, we tend to instinctively want what the other has, for fear we lucked out, that they have gained the competitive edge. So frequently I just want to remove myself completely from such societal ills. I'd happily live in the middle of nowhere, so long as I had plumbing, hot water, a comfortable bed, laundry equipment, books... Actually it would seem evident I cannot. I love the story of the widow's mite, yet I live as one of the wealthy men.

I am unashamedly wealthy in many respects. I have my health,  and I am loved. What more should I want? Hopefully in time I can focus more on the important things in my life, perhaps try and work harder? and try to love back as much as I am loved.

As a post-scriptum, thank you to those who commented on my last post. I do love a good moan (see above), and I apologise if anybody took it too literally. May I also thank you for your continuing support and encouragement. X

Quandaries of Affluence

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Oh dear.

Another sad, abandoned blog. I can even see the tumbleweeds across the ether.

One might cite the 'excuses': university, work, social life. But anybody who knows me will know none of those excuses wash with myself, but then, to whom am I writing anyway?

To be perfectly honest, it has mostly been from a complete lack of inspiration. In London, in Europe, life was full of stories, full of life itself. Here, things take on a sallowed quality. The brightness of the sun (Ozone hole) seems to diminish the brightness of the world. It is overpowering. Thankfully, rain has finally arrived. Perhaps this will refresh everything, from the parched sands to the dry and emptiness of my head.

I think the most likely answer is: stop being lazy and morose and do; be. Shame that taking one's own advice always seems to be near-impossible.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Equality & a Nutcracker

In the midst of a socially exhausting calendar and the sensory overload of that treasured season, I was taken to two very contrasting, culture-sating events. The first was at a wonderfully interesting outdoor theatre called Bamboo, the other half of a well-renowned cocktail bar. The stage alone is a terrific, ingenious idea, and one that must be wonderfully good fun to perform on. It mingles the classical Greek amphitheatre with a rather gentle, Balinese-esque place of worship. Although the oriental vibe may come down to the purveyance of bamboo; the name must of course have purpose. Frankly, just being able to see that kind of facility made the night worthwhile. I had been worried about the theme of the performance(s). I tend to shy away from the self-aggrandising, self-interested and self-important performances for which many actors and similar nights are famed. For me the term rather rhymes with bank. (Apologies for hinting at anything untoward.)

And in many respects I was not disappointed on that front. The premise of the evening was an Amnesty International Arts evening. A group of actors, musicians, directors, producers, dancers, choreographers and sound technicians (amongst others no doubt) were given twenty four hours to develop fifteen minute pieces based on the subject of Equality. In all we had six pieces performed before us. With minimal rehearsal time on top of composing a whole piece, the results were impressive. Some a little bankery of course. The problem with collecting a group of very middle-class people and have them try to demonstrate their understanding of and relation to issues such as domestic violence will never work seamlessly. But it was a noble effort. One in particular I thoroughly enjoyed. It was the soliloquy of a university tutor, railing against his apathetic students. He was desperate for debate, passion, life, and it was very funny. I can relate, being the annoyingly vocal member of most of my tutorials as most sit idly by. But perhaps that's how I like it, competition grows dull. I say that as a staunch free-market advocate, mind.
After the thought-provocation at Bamboo, it was to the transporting world of a wealthy German family Christmas in the form of the Nutcracker. I have been incredibly lucky this last year. From Giselle with the ENB to Don Quixote with the WA Ballet. Nothing beats the Nutcracker for pure festive joy. Tchaikovsky composed such lovely music and this production was so charming. By the Graduate College of Dance, the sets belonged to the Australian Ballet at one stage and the costumes were splendid. Having friends perform always adds to the enjoyment of a spectacle. And they cast students of all ages, the miniature gingerbread men were particularly endearing. My favourite fell over as she took a bow, with such grace and poise, such promise! She absolutely made the second act. She looked barely two feet tall on the stage, it was wonderful. We left the elegantly parochial Regal Theatre feeling very much uplifted and full of the spirit of Christmas. In a city where Christmas day currently has a forecast of 38 degrees, I verily need all the help I can get.

To everybody floating about the ether, be you a visitor past or new, admirer or critic, a very happy Christmas to you and yours.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


"Secret Santa is a Western Christmas tradition in which members of a group are randomly assigned other members to whom they anonymously give a gift. Often practised in workplaces, or amongst large families, participation in it is usually voluntary. It offers a way for many people to give and receive a gift at low cost to those involved." Wikipedia.

One need not scroll far down to see my unbridled enthusiasm for Christmas. Reading Mrs Trefusis's latest post brought on a wave of nostalgia for the simple joy of baking Christmas cakes with my grandmother, running through her garden with my cousins and being frequently stung by bees hiding amongst the fallen jacaranda flowers (forget not that I grew up in the southern hemisphere). It often took several days before the swelling in my feet went down. But now that I have returned to the heat (and gosh it has been hot lately, hottest November on record) I am also nostalgic for peacefully white, wintry landscapes of my spiritual northern home. The pictures of Britain in a cold snap have left me in fits of envy. Though I remember fully the chaos of London snow last year, the memories I take from those days are of strangers playing together in the snow, reveling in a Dickensian world of white. Billions of pounds may have been lost, but after all, it's only money.

Which brings me to Christmas. I feel a miserly scrooge-type character, but I am entirely unhappy about a recent spate of Secret Santas pervading my nice quiet world. I am entirely opposed to the idea. I am a poor student and I object to being forced to buy complete strangers tat. Instead, I am baking gingerbread biscuits, and to hell with people's reactions. You will get what you are given and be happy I am bothering at all! I have long been of the opinion that gift-buying is a most inefficient function of money. We waste money on things people invariably do not, have never, and never will want. It is an inefficiency at both ends. And we all have to behave so politely about being bought such things as wallets. Now, I already have a wallet. I have had for many years. What on earth possessed you? Did you suddenly have an epiphany, Oh! The very thing. A Wallet. I'm almost certain that he will need one. Well, how do you think I have managed to carry around the various cards and monies I have done the past 10 years?

That said, I am always incredibly touched that people would think to get me anything, and feel incredibly guilty if I don't like something. But, I'm sorry. I am an increasingly old and bitter man. I want for nothing and need for little. If you want to show your affection, or to wish me a happy Christmas, write me a card (home-made), bake something, create something. Write me a poem. I want a piece of you, not of your wallet.

I worry this attitude will increasingly alienate me from friends and family. Mr London Street recently wrote of peer pressure. The same side of the family with whom I would always make Christmas Cakes at the onset of Advent has now moved away from the simple joys of Christmas, to a highly organised Secret Santa operation. All family members have strict instructions as to whom they buy for, how much they spend, and frankly, what they buy. I have ordered my mother (who is a reluctant member of the board) to opt our branch of the family tree out of the nonsense. I have told her if she doesn't insist on it, I shall. And of the two of us, she is the more likely to be tactful. Christmas should not be about brutally commercial organisation. It should be fun, spontaneous, well-fed amongst good company. It should be a celebration of life and family (and food). I think when children are involved, there should absolutely be plenty of beautifully wrapped gifts under a Christmas tree. The latest thing simply must be in a stocking, so long as children are giving a thorough appreciation for how lucky they are, considering so many other children have so little.

Am I hugely out of step with the rest of the world? Have I any right to impose my will on the rest of the family? Should I keep calm and carry on? Am I fundamentally wrong? Any thoughts welcome and appreciated.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Melbourne Cup Day

This is the race that stops a nation. A public (bank) holiday marks the date in its home state of Victoria. Essentially, it is an opportunity for boozing in the middle of the week (as though Australians need any more of an excuse) and the chance to wear such things as fascinators. Even in the West, as far from the track as one could possibly be on the continent, feathers, dresses and suits pervade the inner city streets. Some with promising all-day lunches to look forward to, others little more than a public house. 

One anomaly of life in an isolated economic power-house is the triviality of time differences. This is an example of federalism functioning badly. The West recently voted against the introduction of Summer Time yet again, despite a successful three summer trial. This now has us 3 hours behind the East for a significant part of the year, including the special race day that is the first Tuesday of November. While in Melbourne they wine and dine over lunch before the race at approximately 3pm, we are (usually) soberly subjected to the race at 12pm, before then beginning to lunch. The natural order of things is consequently reversed - the winners and losers decided before the first morsel is even consumed. While fun, it remains regardless and anti-climax.

Tuesday 2 November 2010 marks the first Melbourne Cup I truly feted. I cannot describe the heat. An all-enveloping wall of high temperature that followed wherever one went, a shadow with no shade. No relief, but for the air-conditioned indoors. Thank goodness that was where I was to spend 5 hours of the day. I was fortunate to have been invited along to Must, in Mount Lawley. The gem of Russell Blaikie, considered to be one of Perth's best talents, and boasting one of the best wine lists in the city. This we attacked with great gusto, and whyever not? Must has such a good reputation, and I have so enjoyed eating there in the past, that I think I heaped too much expectation on the food. It was fine, no doubting that. But it wasn't quite there, for what I had anticipated. The atmosphere was wonderfully relaxed and informal, tables were joined and intimately spaced, giving a tremendously communal atmosphere. The joy of the winning was shared, and the pain of the losing commiserated with equal measure. 

A surprise highlight came towards the end of the lunch. There had been various in-house raffles and prizes, and Must finished off by awarding some fashion prizes. Hastily before the MC returned to the mezzanine, a waiter had asked my name, saying I might have won a prize. I never win anything, so I was positively beaming with pride in anticipation of what was to come. Best Dressed Lady was announced, then came Best Dressed Gentleman. When my name was not called out, I was forced to use my best "I didn't win an Oscar face". I've always believed it's not how you look in winning, but in losing that counts. Dignity exists far more in the gracious vanquished than in any winner. Though that could well be a lifetime of bitterness speaking. Oh I performed so well, the face I used was so gracious. The rest of the table had erupted indignantly. "Of course that was your prize!", "Only a fool would have awarded that bald-headed, poorly suited troglodyte a fashion prize.", "Do you think it was rigged? Why bother asking your name then...". Quite funny in retrospect. The came the surprise  - the award for best tie. In truth, I won this by default, I was the only person sporting a bow tie. But I take the victory regardless. Mounting the stairs, to deafening applause, I shook hands with Mr Blaikie, who presented me with a signed copy of his cookbook and a Must voucher. 

I'm sure it isn't hard to imagine what that was spent on...

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Mrs Robinson

I shan't bother mentioning my absence - beyond this sentence - it is utterly pointless, though I do dislike elephants in the room.

Something cultural: The Graduate recently (ironically it was showing when I last posted) visited Perth. Starring Jerry Hall, this was a major coup for such a parochial town. In the quaint venue that is His Majesty's Theatre, a hint of Broadway and West End glamour alleviated the permeating sense of "Dullsville" life. The local papers gloated daily at our successful coup. The former other half of Jagger, the model was in town. And furthermore, dating a local businessman. Curiously enough, said businessman was in attendance the night I went. Not that it's any of my business of course...

The show: well it was itself rather quaint really. It certainly hearkened back to a time of much more simple gender roles, a world with much clearer divisions; black and white. The sets were wonderfully kitsch, and reminded me often of my grandparents old house. Strange colour combinations, modernist furniture and panelling certainly were very transporting.

Of course the moment that really had people excited was Hall's nude scene. "Clever" use of silhouette left very little to the imagination, but was undoubtedly wonderfully, artistically risqué. Now Hall is clearly no actress. She certainly doesn't pretend to be. But she surprised me with her comic timing, which more than made up for what was clearly "acting". And of course, she was not there to act, hers was the star quality that brought in the numbers. And it certainly did, from all across the Oceanic region.

From this, I can only speak of how well I thought the local cast performed, especially the young girl playing Elaine Robinson. The American who played Benjamin Braddock certainly made him irritating. Self-obsessed, self-important, selfish, vacuous, vapid... I felt venomous hatred for his character by the end. I was certainly praying Mr Robinson would prematurely end his days after the discovery of the protagonists' affair.

I am embarrassed to admit I have never seen the film in full. After seeing the play, I am certainly not dis-inclined to see it properly, but I will need to be in a very patient mood that evening. Certainly the Robinson alcoholism may be whence I draw my inspiration..

Friday, 3 September 2010


I've just realised 7/7 is in fact a whole. The completion of a picture. I wish I could feel more of a completeness about my life at present, but the more I accumulate, the more that seems to slip through my fingers. 

In terms of the things I like, I feel I have covered most bases. Transport to sustenance. Perhaps I can choose something that is important to me, something I do my best to show to whomever, whenever. Mrs Trefusis mentioned me and manners, something about which I can be very particular. Example: I simply loathe people who are rubbish at introductions. It really is too awful, I have no mechanism to deal with the awkwardness of being left to the wayside as a friend chatters on without making any attempt to introduce one to tuther. Are you specifically not introducing me? Or are you simply blind to the fact we are as Adam to one another? Either way, for some reason, it bothers me.
As, yet again, I have descended into writing about that which I don't like, I'd better move on quick smart. There is a vague connection, because what I wish to say I do like is kindness. I think kindness is so very important, it costs absolutely nothing and can greatly affect a person's day to day existence. I have been extraordinarily lucky in that I have known some of the kindest people imaginable. London, one of the world's great metropoles, is not somewhere I necessarily expected to discover it. The vastness of everything and, in particular, the number of people does not necessarily engender a sense of abounding kindness. But it is there that I was the beneficiary of some wonderfully good turns - extra streams of income when they were invaluable; hot, home-cooked meals when they were so very welcome; friendship in some low times and even, in moments of utter desperation, a roof over my head.

Kindness can take many various forms, be it a word, an act, a gesture, even an offer. It can be conscious or sub-conscious. In a world of increasing disenfranchisement, hedonism, selfishness, chicanery and one-upmanship, I think it is important to reflect on what it is to be human, what humanity entails. To me, one of our greatest achievements as a species was developing a conscience, rising above natural selection, empathy and kindness. Yet the downside of our developed thought has been to allow ourselves to divide - be it politically, racially, religiously, by gender, sexuality, background, hair colour, eye colour - and hate. And I'm in no way suggesting I'm above the negativity, I am often guilty of wishing ill on complete strangers. Bus drivers and club bouncers in particular.

However, what I hope by writing this is that it will serve as a reminder to myself, and to anybody else who should stumble across it for that matter,  to be better. It costs absolutely nothing to smile. To be kind, in its truest form, can make all the difference between somebody having a good and a bad day. I know on the very greyest and rainiest of days we feel far from any sense of joy, so therefore to share whatever remnants within there are seems ridiculous. But to do so is to multiply it tenfold. I promise. I spent yesterday at the funeral of a good friend's father. He had committed suicide out of depression, quite tragic. Certainly, the sense from the readings was that this was an incredibly kind, honest, decent and noble person, who had been overwhelmed by the horridness of the world around him. What was so touching, despite the grief, was the outpouring of kindness the local community showed this family, and I am convinced that this support was invaluable to them.

Our world can be a desperately dark place at times. It is within all of us to find that metaphorical sunshine, and to perhaps re-assess how we treat our fellow human beings. I don't mean to sound like the resurrection of Ralph Waldo Emerson, but I do believe we can all, even in the very smallest of ways, collectively make our human experience just that little bit happier.

"Give all to love; obey thy heart." 
Ralph Waldo Emerson